Law Enforcement

  • CybersecurityFBI moves cyberthreats to top of law-enforcement agenda

    FBI director James Comey said combatting cybercrime and other cyber threats are now top FBI priority. “It (the Internet) is transforming human relationships in ways we’ve never seen in human history before,” Comey said. “I see a whole lot of hacktivists, I see a whole lot of international criminal gangs, very sophisticated thieves,” he added. “I see people hurting kids, tons of pedophiles, an explosion of child pornography.” In October Comey urged Congress to require tech companies to put “backdoors” in apps and operating systems. Such a move would allow law enforcement officials to better to monitor suspected criminals who often escape the law using encryption and anti-surveillance computer software.

  • TerrorismMichigan teen-ager faces terrorism charges after posting anonymous threats

    A 17-year-old Brandon High School student in Oakland County, Michigan has been arrested and accused of posting online threats using the anonymous app, After School. The Oakland County Sheriff’s office contacted the app provider and served subpoenas to identify the anonymous user who posted seventeen messages and five pictures, ranging from “Tomorrow I am going to shoot and kill every last one of you and it’s going to be bigger than Columbine,” “Death to you all,” and “Bang Bang Brandon Bang Bang,” to stock photos of a person holding a pump-action shotgun.As of Thursday evening, Apple has pulled the After School app from its App Store.

  • U.K. Muslim communitiesCrime data research sheds new light on British Muslim communities

    U.K. Muslim communities may not be as victimized by violent crime, or as dissatisfied with the police as is widely suggested and believed, according to new research. An examination of statistics reveals a surprising counter-narrative to commonly held perceptions of British Muslim communities and their relationships to crime victimization and the criminal justice system. Despite widespread condemnation of police counter-terrorism measures such as stop and search, data from the Crime Survey of England and Wales reveal that a sizeable majority of Muslim respondents not only reported positive attitudes toward a range of subjects such as police fairness, reliability, and relevance to the community but are in many cases more likely to do so than non-Muslim respondents.

  • ForensicsNIST study argues for RFID forensic evidence management

    Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags— have become increasingly popular for tracking everything from automobiles being manufactured on an assembly line to zoo animals in transit to their new homes. Now, thanks to a new NIST report, the next beneficiaries of RFID technology may soon be law enforcement agencies responsible for the management of forensic evidence. The release notes that the practical question that agencies must consider is whether RFID technology can produce measurable benefits and a positive return on the funds invested in a new system. The NIST report estimates that RFID systems can pay back their initial set-up cost in about two years.

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  • TerrorismNumber of lone-wolf terrorist attacks in U.S. not rising, but police are targeted more often

    Lone wolf terrorist attacks in the United States are not on the rise as popular culture might lead one to believe — but the attacks are changing for the worse, according to new research. The targets, weapons, and motives have changed in recent years. Before 9/11, these terrorists used bombs, but now high-velocity firearms are the weapon of choice, he said. The change might be a result of legislation enacted after the Oklahoma City bombing limiting the public’s access to bomb-making ingredients. Police and military personnel are now the preferred targets of modern lone wolf terrorists. Domestically, attacks on the power grid are the next big threat, the researchers say. Lone wolf terrorist Jason Woodring successfully downed the electric transmission system of rural Arkansas in 2013. His vandalism affected 10,000 people and cost $3 million in repairs.

  • Law-enforcement technologyWashington State police overwhelmed by public requests for dash- and body-cam footage

    Police departments in Washington State are reviewing their dash- and body-cam programs as they see significant increase in public requests for video footage under the state’s Public Records Act, which puts no limit on the number of records which may be requested nor requires that the person requesting records have any connection to the information being requested.

  • ImmigrationNew deportation approach targets convicted criminals, threats to national security

    Last Thursday, President Barack Obama announced the end of Secure Communitiesas part of his immigration reform strategy. The program was designed to identify deportable undocumented immigrants who had committed crimes, by allowing federal immigration agents to access fingerprint records collected at local jails. In many cases, agents requested local law enforcement officials to hold inmates beyond their jail terms until they could be transferred to federal custody. Obama has announced a new initiative — the Priority Enforcement Program— to target only undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of certain serious crimes or who pose danger to national security.

  • TerrorismRAND study assesses threat posed by Americans joining jihadist fronts abroad

    Although it is difficult to pin down the exact numbers of Western fighters slipping off to join the jihadist fronts in Syria and Iraq – the number is estimated to be around 100 — U.S. counterterrorism officials believe that those fighters pose a clear and present danger to American security. Some of these fighters will be killed in the fighting, some will choose to remain in the Middle East, but some will return, more radicalized than before and determined to continue their violent campaigns back in the United States.

  • GunRight-to-carry gun laws may be inked to increase in violent crime: Stanford study

    Right-to-carry or concealed-carry laws have generated much debate in the past two decades — do they make society safer or more dangerous? Prior research based on data through 1992 indicated that the laws decreased violent crime. In 2004, however, the National Research Council issued a report that found that even extending this data through 2000 revealed no credible statistical evidence these particular laws reduced crime. New Stanford research confirms that right-to-carry gun laws are linked to an increase in violent crime. “Different statistical models can yield different estimated effects, and our ability to ascertain the best model is imperfect,” the study’s lead author notes, describing this as the most surprising aspect of the study.

  • School shootingShooting-detection system will help police locate a shooter within a school building

    For the past two years, law enforcement officials in Methuen, Massachusetts have been testing an active shooter detection system installed in a local school as part of the city’s threat detection program, which includes prevention and emergency training protocols for school staff and students. The $70,000 system includes dozens of small square panels equipped with infrared cameras and microphones. The system detects gunfire and identifies the exact location where the shooting occurred within the school building – then sends data about the incident to a command center.

  • School shootingSchools review lockdown protocols for active shooter scenarios

    Schools across the country are reviewing their lockdown protocols for active shooter scenarios. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ortiz Middle School is encouraging educators to not only gather students within their care to safety, but if necessary to fight off an attacker if the situation permits. On 9 October, school principal Steve Baca ordered a lockdown after a security guard discovered a gun in a student’s backpack. Immediately, English teacher Alexandra Robertson locked students in her classroom, got them to help barricade the door, and she was prepared to use any object including books and chairs to fed off anyone who might try to enter the classroom.

  • Mass shootingMental-health apps may reduce number of mass shooting events

    Between 1982 and 2011, mass shootings occurred every 200 days on average. S since 2011, mass shootings have occurred every sixty-four days on average. Mass shootings have one thing in common: the culprits all suffered from mental illness and the condition was known to at least one person. New mobile app educates the public about mental illness and provides local and national resources for early intervention and treatment.

  • CanadaCanada considering expanding powers of its security agencies

    The Harper government is considering legislation which would expand the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to investigate, apprehend, and detain homegrown terrorists. CSIS wants the power to take advantage of the so-called “Five Eyes” spy network to which Canada, the United Kingdom, America, Australia, and New Zealand all belong. CSIS is also asking for more power to track Canadians believed to have been radicalized, and to take more advantage of anonymous sources. Ottawa officials are talking about whether to give CSIS explicit legislative permission to engage in “threat-diminishment” — a power which the intelligence agency’s watchdog recently pointed out that CSIS already uses, but the law does not explicitly permit.

  • GunsBullet-tracing technology helps nab criminals

    Firing a gun leaves a unique carving on each bullet, what some police officers refer to as the gun’s DNA. The Minneapolis Police Department(MPD) has upgraded its bullet-tracing technology, or integrated ballistic identification solution (IBIS), quickly to match bullets to different crimes around the city, and soon around the country. The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network(NIBIN) is a national database of bullets and shell castings that shares information on the markings left on a bullet after it passes through a gun’s chamber.

  • CybersecurityFBI wants Congress to mandate backdoors in tech devices to facilitate surveillance

    In response to announcements by Appleand Googlethat they would make the data customers store on their smartphones and computers more secure and safer from hacking by law enforcement, spies, and identity thieves, FBI director James Comey is asking Congress to order tech companies to build their devices with “backdoors,” making them more accessible to law enforcement agencies.Privacy advocates predict that few in Congress will support Comey’s quest for greater surveillance powers.